Why We’ll Never Buy Used T-Mobile Phones Again

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UpgradeSwap buys used phones and tablets for top dollar and we’re the only website that pays people the day they get their offer. It’s wonderful, but we recently decided to never buy back used T-Mobile mobile devices again. Read below to see why.

People all over the world buy used iPhones, smartphones, and tablets from private sellers, whether it be on Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, etc. This is to save money because as we all know, brand new devices can cost a lot of money. That’s great but there’s a major issue that has come to our attention and it deals with used T-Mobile devices and their financing option for mobile devices.

So a typical scenario goes like this; you find a used T-Mobile phone to buy online and the seller assures you that the device is clear for activation. You go one step further and ask for the IMEI and check that IMEI with T-Mobile to make sure there’s no blocks. T-Mobile assures you there are no blocks on that line. You buy the phone. All is well right? Wrong.

What you don’t realize is that the phone you purchased possibly was being financed by the T-Mobile customer and that seller may have paid their carrier bill but decided to stop paying it after they sold the phone. So one day you’re using the phone and it stops receiving signal for no reason. What happened? Well that person who sold you the phone eventually caught T-Mobile’s attention and because T-Mobile wasn’t able to get the full payment for the remaining amount due on the phone, they block the IMEI and the device is now a paperweight.

I know what you’re thinking, “but I checked the IMEI”. Yes, you did check it but because of T-Mobile’s unique (to put it nicely) approach to IMEI checking, they told you the correct info that there were no blocks BUT what they didn’t tell you is that the phone was being financed, because they aren’t allowed to. The reason for this is because they have to pull up that customer’s account in order to check if the phone is being financed. Bummer isn’t it? Even worse is you would think that they can at least tell you if the phone is still active on an their account before you buy it but you can’t even do that because once again, T-Mobile won’t allow that information to be released.

While speaking to T-Mobile on the phone, they mentioned that their advice would be for us to avoid buying used T-Mobile devices from sellers unless they can prove their account is paid in full or you can get them on the phone (or go into a store) and speak to T-Mobile to pull up their account. That is very unlikely to happen in the real world, especially with online scenarios.

Thankfully, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have a smarter system in place. They will tell you if the IMEI or ESN (the network identification number for the phone) is active on an account by simply calling them. If the phone is released off the account and not reported lost or stolen, you can be most certain the device won’t have any issues being activated on a new line and you won’t have to worry about your service getting cut because the past owner stopped paying their bill, like on T-Mobile.

If an AT&T Next user (the name for their financing plan) for example wants to remove a device from their line, AT&T requires them to pay for the full amount due on the device, even if they want to go to another phone with AT&T Next program. Basically if the phone is active on the account you don’t want to buy it. T-Mobile won’t tell you if it’s active and that’s a big issue. UpgradeSwap uses multiple ways of checking IMEIs and ESNs, including CheckMend.com which is a paid service, but this still won’t change our stance on not buying T-Mobile devices.

As always, there’s always exceptions but those cases are rare. Because of these issues that have come to our attention, we will no longer buy used T-Mobile phones ever again unless T-Mobile changes their ways to act similar to the other Big 3 carriers.

This problems creates a big disadvantage for T-Mobile users looking to buy or sell used phones and tablets.

We want to run a legitimate business and want to avoid scams across the board and after seeing the way T-Mobile is handling the issues mentioned, it looks like the best way to avoid that is to stop buying used T-Mobile devices.

UPDATE:

We understand many people will claim the Swappa IMEI Checker is fully accurate but this isn’t the case. We actually listed a T-Mobile phone on Swappa and we check all ESNs and IMEIs before buying them and eventually listing them for sale. Swappa approved the listing, they wouldn’t have done this if it said it was being financed. The buyer of that device 45 days later said the phone stopped working and that the device ESN now says it’s being financed. Swappa even states that they can’t guarantee the info they provide with the IMEI Checker.

Other users already confirmed that they have financed phones that don’t appear as being financed on an IMEI Checker. That is where the problem lies, you can’t be certain and we’re not comfortable with that. We would ask T-Mobile to revise their approach to this.

Hope this can suffice as an explanation to those who felt we were wrong, and we would have been happy to be wrong but we will no longer take a risk in buying back T-Mobile devices because of what was mentioned above.

7 thoughts on “Why We’ll Never Buy Used T-Mobile Phones Again

  1. Pingback: UpgradeSwap Has Stopped Buying Used T-Mobile Phones, And You Probably Should Too

  2. I think you guys need to reach out to T-Mobile again. Somehow Swappa has access to this financing information on their free imei checker (http://swappa.com/esn). I have a financed T-Mobile phone and Swappa reports back that my device is ineligible for Swappa because it is financed and has an outstanding balance.

    So it is definitely possible to obtain this information. Just how, is the matter in question.

    • We understand why one would think that Swappa’s system is fully accurate but this isn’t the case. We actually listed a T-Mobile phone on Swappa and we check all esns before buying them. Swappa approved the listing, they wouldn’t have if it said it was being financed. The buyer of that device 45 days later said the phone stopped working and that the device ESN now says it’s being financed. Swappa even states that they can’t guarantee the info they provide.

      This is a blow to our business and we use multiple methods of ESN verification. You are taking a risk buying used T-Mobile devices.

      Others can attest to the fact that the Swappa system tells them their phone is clear even though it’s being financed.

      Hope this can suffice as an explanation to those who felt we were wrong, and we would have been happy to be wrong but we will no longer take a risk in buying back T-Mobile devices.

  3. Pingback: UpgradeSwap Has Stopped Buying Used T-Mobile Phones, And ...

  4. Pingback: UpgradeSwap stops buying used T-Mobile phones due to network blacklisting - Roble Digital

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